Andrea Bargnani is not a name that conjures positive emotions for Toronto Raptors fans. The former No. 1 overall pick was selected before LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo in the 2006 NBA Draft. Unlike Aldridge, Roy and Rondo, however, Bargnani has yet to be selected to an All-Star game and an All-NBA team.
Bargnani has been regarded as a bust and an expensive bust (he’s making $10 million a year). This is reflected even further because newly-appointed general manager Masai Ujiri is interested in trading him by July 1, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.
Now, why would the Golden State Warriors ever want someone who is injury-prone, a target of trade attempts and the recipient of many Raptors fans’ rage and critics? Well, the reason is simple: Bargnani still has the potential to be a great player despite what has recently transpired. Let’s take a deeper look at a potential trade.
Why it Works for Toronto
An expiring contract for a player that will not come off the bench much seems to be the perfect solution for the Raptors. Bargnani was not a major part of the Raps’ squad this year, barely logging 1000 minutes and only having a Win Share value (the approximate number of wins contributed by the player) of 0.1.
The Raptors would be willing to trade Bargnani for either Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins because they would be paying roughly the same amount of money as they would for Bargnani. However, neither Jefferson or Biedrins would be expected to do much.
Additionally, Jefferson and Biedrins’ contracts will expire after 2013-14. That would restore $11 or $9 million, respectively, which is preferable to keeping Bargnani, who they would have to pay about $20 million over the next two years.
Why it Works For Golden State
It will be harder quantify the Warriors’ benefit from such a trade, as the Toronto side seemingly explains itself. I will have to at least justify why having Bargnani on the team is worth more than $10 million dollars in cap room for the 2014-15 season.
The difficulty of this task is compounded with the fact that the 2014-15 season will hold one of the strongest free-agent classes in recent history. Bargnani is at his best when he can play as a stretch four, despite his seven-foot stature. He has been described as a “Poor Man’s Dirk Nowitzki,” which is accurate given his ability to shoot and pass.
Bargnani has one glaring weakness for a player of his size: rebounding. He has averaged just 4.8 rebounds per game during his seven years as a player, which is absolutely horrible for a player of his height. While we probably can’t expect him to suddenly improve his rebounding, we can expect two of the best rebounding bigs, David Lee and Andrew Bogut, to pick up the slack.
Bargnani’s sharp-shooting, however, would be a perfect fit in Golden State’s offense. He has shot 36.1 percent from beyond the arc over his seven-year career. His ability to draw defenders from the paint would create better opportunities for Stephen Curry to run the pick and roll and penetrate the paint. Let’s also factor in the immeasurable advantage to playing in a city that doesn’t view you as a constant reminder of past failures in the front office.
While acquiring another injury-prone forward might be a risky move, the upside of an efficiently-used Bargnani could outweigh the risks. Who knows, if Bargnani came to Golden State and had the season of his life and subsequently decides to test the free market in the 2014-15 season, the Warriors could see that $10 million return to their pockets.